WHY REAL ESTATE IS BOOMING IN PLANNED HILL STATIONS
WHY REAL ESTATE IS BOOMING IN PLANNED HILL STATIONS, You can buy as much land as you want in places like Mulshi, if you’re putting up a tourist industry.
1.5 lakh hectares that is Mulshi,6,214 hectares have been okayed for hill cities, and lots more is in process.
The Western Ghats is one of the top-ten bio-diversity hotspots on the planet. The Western Ghat in Maharashtra, hence, is ecologically crucial.
The principal hill range here is the Sahyadri range. Mulshi taluka
, which is in the Sahyadri, is around 35 kilometres from Pune city.
After the state government’s special policy on developing the tourist industry was passed, Mulshi became a hotspot for private developers.
Now, of the 1,50,000 hectares that make up Mulshi, 6,214 hectares have been taken over officially by private players. According to sources, many more hectares will soon be okayed for artificial hill stations.
This has happened due to the modification in the hill station policy.
Due to overcrowding at the existing hill stations, the government decided to ease the pressure on them and made a policy in 1997 — the Special Regulations for Development of Tourists Resort/ Holiday Homes/ Townships in Hill Station Type.
Under this policy, the government has drawn up 29 rules.
As per rule 2, in order to make a hill station, a party would need to own at least 400 hectares. This is not applicable in forested areas.
However, one could not buy more than 2,000 hectares. But in 2001, the government modified the rule and withdrew the cap.
Now, developers can purchase as many hectares as they please in a proposed hill station project. But a developer must exclude ‘gaothans’ (hamlets).
As per rule 7, the distance between two such proposed hill stations was kept at a minimum of 15 kilometres horizontally.
But this rule was also modified and the distance factor was deleted. It means two hill stations can be built fence to fence now!
So, anyone who has 400 hectares can approach the urban development department (UDD) now and seek a go-ahead to declare the project as a hill station, and then keep buying more land within the hill station limit, which is usually a remote and hilly region.
Till date, after Lavasa and Amby Valley, Aqua Land India Pvt Ltd and Maharashtra Valley View Corporation are purchasing land to build hill stations.
Wildlife and Western Ghat expert Sunil Karkare said that private hill stations impact the ecology adversely. “Mulshi is in the Sahyadri.
This area is rich in flora and fauna. Any constructions will impact the delicate natural balance and the climate as well.” He added that there was an inherent flaw in the government’s rationale on forest land.
As per the hill station building policy, forest land is excluded. However, a forest and its surrounding areas are “inter-dependent”.
“The development of such land affects everything. Laws are made but they are never followed. The Western Ghat is eco-sensitive and any unnatural development will harm the monsoon and the atmosphere,” he said.
As per the new tourism policy, non-agriculturist can purchase agricultural land for the purpose of tourism activists like resorts, villas etc.
This has been made possible by Section 63 (A) of Bombay Tenancy Act. It states that the land must be for the benefit of an industrial or commercial undertaking or an educational or charitable institution.
The collector can also grant permission for transfer of agricultural land if it is required by a co-operative society.
Environmentalist Dr Vishambhar Choudhari said that earlier it was not possible for a non-agriculturist to buy farmland, even for tourism purposes.
But the new policy has changed that. “After declaring the hill station policy, the government made it possible to buy agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes like making tourist resorts.”
He said that though the government allowed this by giving tourism industry status, there were holes in the policy. “If the government made the transfer of lands legal in the name of promoting tourism, the question of the environmental impact of such big project remains and must be dealt with.”
Vandana Chavan, former MLC and environmentalist, however, feels planned hill stations are fine. “Why should we have a problem with planned hill cities? The existing cities are polluted and congested, so we have to move out.
If we have planned and self-contained cities, we should see it as a positive development. It’s the need of the hour.
There should be sustainable development and people should make such cities their first home.” Chavan is known for being against construction in bio-diversity parks within the city.
In a hill station, the state government allows
Shopping Malls/ offices complex Club houses Hospitals/ clinic/ Health centre Hotels / Motels S T Stand School College Culture centre/ amphitheatre/ cinema Theatre Hi-Tech communication centre Golf course Helipad Ropeways Adventure Clubs Water Games Convenience store